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Time Out London
August 13-20 2003
By Sophie Harris
Guided By Voices
One of the joys of a great GBV record - like 1996's breakthrough 'Alien Lanes' - is the way in which songwriter Robert Pollard fits mini song snippets alongside cut-glass-perfect pop numbers. As Pollard has pointed out himself, the mix has the effect of twiddling a radio dial: the scungey, streamlined rock of The Who, the sexy weirdness of 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road' - era Beatles, all soaked in a lo-fi, soupy hiss. His melodic nouse and extraordinary prolific output are matched only by his mighty capacity for booze (Kim Deal named them Guided By Beer) and Pollard's reputation as A Very Nice Man. Remember the guy who brought on a birthday cake for Julian Casablancas at the end of The Strokes' set at Reading last year? That was Bob. So this is Pollard's 15th album, and it's probably his most polished yet. Folk psych epic 'Beat Your Wings' rocks like Aphrodite's Child and 'Secret Star' is righteously stompy. But where Alien Lanes dipped and dived its pace, 'EG' maintains the same speed, whipped along by Husker Du style drums - yet its consistency, its relentless, neat segueging, feels like taking a walk and not bothering to stop and look at something nice. 'Don't know if it's a miracle or a curse' he wonders on 'Useless Inventions'. Probably both.